LINKS & APP's & DOC's & HELP &...
If You Know What "DIY" Means, This Page is for You!
Sometimes, you just don’t know where to begin! Could be you're looking for a new pair of binoculars or a new telescope; deciding between the two can be a challenge for anyone. It’s possible you’ve been asked to help out at a star gazing event, and whether you’re a rookie or an astronomy veteran, you just might like to have a quick checklist. Looking for a really useful weather forecast site? Or, perhaps it's a calendar with moon phases and sunset times? Once in a while you just need a little information to get you started.
Well, you can start right here. With our vast experience in the field, we have collected dozens of sites, documents, and applications that will make you the “Pro from Dover." And just who are these pro’s, and where is Dover, anyway? While you’re thinking about that, check some of these out, and if you have questions just call us or send an email.
Weather is probably the single greatest factor in determining the success of an observing event; but, it doesn't ALWAYS have to be that way! Here at Astronomy Adventures Arizona, we do have some options and alternate activities should weather force your event in doors. But, if it absolutely, positively HAS to be an outside observing event, well then nothing works like clear, cloudless skies!
In making your final weather "go-or-no-go call," keep in mind that it is often helpful to consider several weather resources!
Aviation Weather Center
This place has just about all the satellite imagery you would ever want! Visible, Infra-red, Water Vapor displays are here, and they can all be put into "loop displays".
Tons of national and regional information is available from all over the planet. Great stuff - we use it all the time!
NOAA National Weather
The 7-Day Forecast is an indispensable tool. Enter your City, State, or Zipcode, and you get a pretty good idea of what the weather has in store for you.
Check out the "Tabular Forecast" in the many options listed to get an hour-by-hour breakdown for the next day or two.
Clear Sky Chart
This is a very helpful tool, particularly when used with other resources. Cloud cover, darkness, humidity , wind and precipitation are all covered. Put in your area, and choose a representative local site.
Don't Forget About the Moon:
Right after the weather, the most important thing to consider? Yep, that would be the Moon. And it's not just because it's big and "nasty bright," and it takes away all the faint fuzzies in the sky. Oh no! Lots and lots of people JUST LOVE to look at the Moon in a big ol' telescope! So, what you really need is something I call a "Goldilocks Moon,", one that's juuuuuust right.
"And what exactly is a just right Moon?" you might ask. Well it's one that has high contrast between light and shadow, and it's only up long enough to look at. Then it drops below the horizon and goes away, leaving the faint other stuff in all its glory. To pull this off, you need a crescent Moon - either early evening or early morning...depending on your event!
Sunrise Sunset Calendar
To get that perfect Moon, check out this sunrise/sunset calendar. Give some details about where you are and what month you'd like to check, and "BAM!" like magic you've got a cool looking calendar with enough information to even keep all three bears happy!
What Else is Up Tonight:
Once you know that your weather is gonna be great, and exactly what time the sun will set, it's time to fill out your observing list. One of the very best sites you can go to for "extra goodies" is Heaven's Above. Here you'll find all the info about satellites, planets, and other nighttime wonders - even daily star charts. These are the magical things that can make you look like a wizard to all of your guests!
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff:
Pulling off a successful Observing Session or Star Party is not magic...it actually takes a lot more than that! There is a lot of planning, organizing and coordinating involved. And when you've done it...oh, about a gazillion times...then you have a pretty good idea of what goes on your checklist. And then you revise it about a dozen more times, before it's almost right.
Well we've done a lot of the legwork for you. Here are a couple checklists to get you started. Whether you're organizing the event yourself, or just one of the telescope operators, print these out to get your event off on the right foot!.
This is the perfect list of equipment if you are taking a telescope to a star party. You won't need everything here, at every event, but you sure won't be missing much either!
Cross off the things you don't need, and add items that we might have forgotten...and then, be sure to let us know about the changes you would recommend.
If you have the passion, and the knack for helping out at star parties, why not try coordinating an event on your own? Organizing an event is a lot more than just bringing and setting up your own equipment. You may be one of the operators as well, but you'll invest a lot of time recruiting and coordinating other operators, picking the perfect site, and making sure that everyone has everything they need. Here's an example of a "School Star Party", and a list of things to consider when you are "large and in charge!".
Cool Stuff is Coming!
When you're planning your next big event, you just have to know if the cosmos might just have something special in store for you and your guests. Maybe the planets will be in perfect alignment, or there could be a meteor shower set to light up the night sky. There could even be a solar or lunar eclipse in the cards that day!
In any case, be sure to check out the Astronomy Adventures Calendar shown here. If you have an observing session scheduled with us, you should see it listed here. And, any open date might well be the perfect night to let us take you on a personalized astronomy adventure.